January 6, 2009

Our Social Network Personae

Social networks are definitely not just for individuals. You can connect to our company through a variety of mediums to get networking opportunities, fundraising advice and the inside scoop on the going-ons at FundingUniverse.com.

You may have already noticed the social network icons on the top, right-hand side of our blog. If you’re a member of Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, we’d love to connect! Access is open to all. Follow the icons on the top-right or keep reading for more info.

Facebook
http://www.facebook.com/pages/FundingUniversecom/36103342879?ref=ts

Network with other entrepreneurs on Facebook and stay tuned for upcoming event notices. FundingUniverse regularly holds online pitching events and in-person events you don’t want to miss out on.

LinkedIn
http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=140071

Discuss business ideas, fundraising methodology and connect with FundingUniverse staff and potential partners.

Twitter
http://twitter.com/fundingtips

The FundingUniverse team delivers baked-fresh-daily fundraising advice over the Twitter network in bite-sized portions of 140 characters or less.




January 5, 2009

Is It Enough?

rickgibsonMy Obsessions
Is it Enough?

The big dirty secret. Clearly, no one wants to talk about this. When we do a sales forecast, no matter how confident we are, we’re usually sensitive enough to our audience to make the picture look pretty reasonable. That also includes the supposedly brilliant fed finance guys who keep mis-forecasting the ongoing U.S economic bailout. However, if we were living in a totally transparent world, guys that do these forecasts (the feds) would pay more attention to whether we have allocated Enough money and get it right the first time. Problem is, investors or in this case, the public, would never agree with it. So forecasters are forced to make their case incrementally, over time, which makes the situation get progressively worse.

This is different from the normal world, where if you have a willing investor, you should make sure to get enough money the first time, since you may not get another trip to the buffet line.

P.S. Newsflash… I just heard I am going to get a billion dollar bailout. Hooray! I didn’t want it, but the government said I had to take it, to help insure the public wouldn’t worry. (Now see how silly that sounds!)

Advice to Entrepreneurs
Accordion to me…This week’s advice to entrepreneurs

Surviving in 2009. Whatever you do, you must last to survive. No matter what your company does, make ‘lasting’ your New Year’s Resolution. Chances are, this year you’ll have less money to achieve your goals than you originally planned. Right now, put pen to paper to figure out HOW you can last. Change your focus from achieving greatness to… surviving long enough to have sufficient opportunity to evolve your plan, so you can ultimately achieve greatness. Confusing? It is for me, and I wrote it.

Another dirty secret. Wherever I go, people are still asking what’s changed with the recent big shift in the economy. Two big phenomena occur to me. First, those investors who still have lots of cash, are now looking for deals at 30% of what they were six months ago. A necessary part of that reduction is to cover the possibility that the economy may continue to take a further dive. Second, with things being so radically impaired, those less well-blessed investors are looking at previous deals with a new goal of return OF investment, not return ON investment. (I’m hoping you understood this the first time you read it.)

As compared to what? Get ready for that question. Your market is big, compared to what? Your product is better, compared to what? Your team has more experience? Now…you get it.

Other ideas to help keep you tense….Be careful what you wish for, you might get it. And, when you ask a question, you better know the answer.

Got an idea or something you need help on? Email me at rick@hotventures.com




January 2, 2009

Advice for the New Year

It’s 2009! A new year means New Year’s resolutions. People are settling down from the rush of the holidays and starting to think about how to make this year better than any year before. For some that means a smaller waistline, for others it means taking the entrepreneurial plunge; jumping off the corporate ship and braving the waters of capitalism.

We love this time of year because we service the surge of the latter. January brings throngs of people freshly committed to starting their own businesses and racing to find capital. We love the excitement and are glad to see so many dreamy-eyed business people setting out to change the world. We’d also like to offer some advice to eager entrepreneurs on how to avoid becoming one of the SBA’s 98% statistic who fail within the first two years.

Check Your Motives

Why do you want to be in business for yourself? Your answer to that question will help you know on the outset how likely you are to succeed. Starting a business isn’t easy. Sure, it carries the potential of doing what you love but it also carries a lot of risk and can mean doing a lot of things you hate.

Say you’re a graphic designer, for example, and you want to design logos for a living, it might seem logical to start your own logo design business. You register a domain, print some pretty business cards and . . . now what? After about a month of learning about marketing and sales, you land your first client. Six months go by and you’ve got several clients, accounts receivable, several marketing channels to manage and a bunch of other administrative functions you wish you never spent time on.

Or, maybe you’re an inventor/programmer and you just invented a new search algorithm that’ll put Google out of business. You register an LLC with the state and start driving traffic to the Linux box in your basement over your residential DSL line. Everything goes great until your webserver crashes from too many concurrent users and Google’s lawyers send you a letter for your overlooked patent infringement.

OK, maybe the examples are extreme (particularly the latter), but the point is that owning your own business isn’t just about doing the one thing you love. Entrepreneurship involves turning what you love into a duplicable process, and if that doesn’t sound appealing to you, you may be better off working for someone else. But don’t get discouraged, if you’re doing what you love there’s nothing wrong with doing it under someone else’s umbrella.

Expect Lots of Sacrifice

What your mom told you a long time ago is still true: nothing worthwhile is ever free. You definitely can have a successful business. You definitely cannot have a successful business without sacrificing a lot of time, money and energy.

Face the fact upfront that starting a business is hard work. If you have a family, you might need to start scheduling time with them a week in advance. If you have other commitments, scale them back. There are exceptions, but realize at some point you’re going to be asked to give up something you don’t want to in order for your business to thrive.

Embrace Setbacks

Failure is a natural part of the cycle. You’re going to make mistakes, lots of mistakes. You’ll make large, costly mistakes. You’re going to embarrass yourself publicly on more than one occassion. Bad things will happen that will be out of your control. It’s all OK! Learn to love the setbacks.

If you ask ten people if they agree that failure is a good thing, ten people will tell you, “Yeah, ’cause you can learn from it.” Well, if it’s good, then the more often the better, right? Well if you count how often those ten people have failed, you’ll see that some of them aren’t drinking their own tonic.

As long as you’re not making the same mistakes over and over again, failure is a precursor to success. Whether you caused the problem or it was out of your control, there’s always something to learn from every failure so it shouldn’t be avoided, it should be embraced.

Every time something bad happens, you’ll learn a little more. After years and years of failure, people will call you wise and you’ll realize how all the setbacks were worth it.

There you have it, candid advice to keep you afloat. If we haven’t dissuaded you from your goal to be a business owner in 2009, good, ’cause we’re cheering for your success. Here’s to a prosperous 2009. Go to it, newly anointed entrepreneur. The free market is waiting for you! And if you want some help with getting the money to get going, give us a call.